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Love and Authentication -- Addressing the problem of password reset
26 June 2008
George E. Pake Auditorium
One of the most commonly neglected security vulnerabilities associated with typical online service providers lies in the password reset process. By being based on a small number of questions whose answers often can be derived using data-mining techniques, or even guessed, many sites are open to attack. To exacerbate the problem, many sites pose the very same questions to users wishing to reset their forgotten passwords, creating a common "meta password" between sites: the password reset questions. At the same time, as the number of accounts per user increases, so does the risk for the user to forget her password. Unfortunately, the cost of a customer-service mediated password reset, currently averaging $22, is far beyond possible for most service providers. In this talk, an alternative technique will be presented. It is fast and efficient, is compatible with input-constrained devices (such as handheld devices), and has low error rates. It is in the process of being commercialized, with a Fortune 500 company intending to deploy it by the end of the year.
Dr. Markus Jakobsson is Principal Scientist at Palo Alto Research Center. He is a founder of the security startup RavenWhite, which addresses security problems associated with authentication, malware and click-fraud. He is also one of the founders of SecurityCartoon, an educational approach targeting typical Internet users. Previously, he has held positions as Associate Professor at Indiana University, Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University, Principal Research Scientist at RSA Security, and was a member of the Technical Staff at Bell Labs. He is a visiting research fellow of the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). Dr. Jakobsson's recent books Phishing and Countermeasures (Wiley, 2006) and Crimeware: Understanding New Attacks and Defenses (Symantec Press, 2008) chart new territory in online security. He received his PhD from University of California at San Diego in 1997.
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